How to execute a successful Product Hunt launch 🚀

11 min read

Georgia Iacovou

05 Aug 2019

You just made a cool shiny new product that could change the world

Yes, that’s right… could. You can’t very well bring forth change if no one knows who you are or what your cool new thing is. Product Hunt is an excellent way to shout about it. If you get to the top spot for a day, or even the top three, it gives you and the thing you made a juicy and valuable boost.

Screenshot of the front page of Product Hunt The front page of Product Hunt at the time of writing — lots of cool, useful, little things. And Buttssssss…?

Our Consent Manager was number 2 a couple of months ago — it gave us a nice growth spurt but it wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t follow these steps.

STEP 1: create an ‘upcoming’ page

This is vitally important — what an upcoming page does is let people on Product Hunt know that you have something burning and it will be launched soon. When we created our upcoming page, we were nowhere near done with the Consent Manager. But it meant that by the time we got to launch, we already had over a hundred subscribers who were interested in what we were doing.

An upcoming page should be done at least 2-3 months before you plan to launch. In that time you can also learn how Product Hunt works. Browse regularly, upvote things, comment on things, follow people who find interesting, etc. This counts for everyone involved in the making of this product.

This is stuff that you need to do before Product Hunt will let you list a product anyway. But also, you need to see and understand the space; what sort of things do people on Product Hunt like, and what gets ignored? Is there anything like your product already? If yes, and it’s popular, that’s a good thing.

STEP 2: get your messaging ready

Right so you’ve been on Product Hunt for a while now and you sort of seen how it works. You hopefully have a fair few people subscribed to your upcoming page. As mentioned, nothing will happen if no one knows who you are. Someone could solve world hunger but have a really crappy marketing campaign — a solution is not a solution if it’s a secret.

You need to scour the length and breadth of your network, and make sure you’re ready to let them know about your product on the day of launch. Remember: some people might not even be on Product Hunt, let alone know what it is (especially if you’re in Europe where Product Hunt is less well known). Getting the messaging right is key.

Depending on who you are, your network could consist of a mixture of friends, investors, colleagues, social media followers, and, if you did step 1 correctly, subscribers. Do not alert people in advance — do it on the day if you actually want them to upvote your product. You’ll have a lot people to message so get everything ready in advance

💌 Build a list of people to email and **prepare emails that are friendly and personal. People are already flooded with emails as it is. Do not set up an official-looking email campaign full of cool graphics and banners. Those are the easiest to ignore, and they are lame. Just a normal plain text email is best. And keep it short — your backstory is not important right now.

🙋🏻‍♀️ Find the right Slack channels. Do not spam any old thing. If you’re not part of any channels, do not despair, because community finders exist. Getting the tone right in Slack is important: talk like you’re solving a problem (because you are), not like you’re simply trying to make up the numbers.

Someone could solve world hunger but have a really crappy marketing campaign — a solution is not a solution if it's a secret.

🤩 If you’re telling your friends about this let them know early, because Product Hunt values the upvote of users who have been active for a few months over the upvote of someone who just signed up that day.

🏹 Bonus: Hunt a hunter. This is entirely optional. Many guides will say that you need to do this in order to launch — incorrect. You can be your own hunter. It’s a very standard way of doing it.

If while browsing you did come across someone who you think would hunt your product, go ahead and approach them. What a hunter does is post your product on your behalf. So you need to work closely with them to make sure they have everything they need (outlined in next steps) in time for launch day.

📣 Get the messaging right. Remember, all you’re doing is letting people know you’ve made something cool. You’re only asking them to click one button behind a link. Keep it short and sweet, like “just letting you know we’ve launched [product] on Product Hunt and was wondering if you could give us an upvote?”. That is how the majority of your emails should sound. No frills at all.

STEP 3: Build assets and clear your calendar

By now you’ve hopefully built up a bit of a following, and you’re ready with a fat list of people to message asking for an upvote. You now need to make some final preparations. There’s two bits to this.

Getting your product details and landing page together

Remember Product Hunt is best for launching singular and easy-to-understand products, not an entire company. So having a landing page that quickly and concisely explains your product is a good idea 👌. For our Consent Manager, we made this. It shows how the product works and let’s people sign up to start using it. Something like this under ‘website’ is better than your actual website.

Landing page for Metomic cookie widget The landing page for the Consent Manager — still useful to this day.

Depending on who you are and what kind of product you’re launching, the various details you need to get together for the launch will be different. But, here are some tips about certain elements:

Clear your calendar

If all goes well on launch day, you will be flooded with comments, questions, and probably bug reports. Launch day is not a normal work day. Either you or a dedicated team need to be prepared to talk to a lot of people. Have some way for people to reach you, be it email, Twitter, or a live chat thing like Intercom.

STEP 4: Actually launch it

You should now have:

  1. A heap of people who will upvote your deliciously innovative product
  2. A concise and exciting-sounding description
  3. Assets that are consistent with your brand (even if your brand is a bunch of rubbish scribbles, consistency is key), including a simple landing page
  4. (Optional) a Hunter who is not you
  5. A bucket of hope and another bucket of optimism

Yikes I guess that means you are ready to launch 🚀. How to handle launch day:

Timings

Launch a product when you’re audience is awake, online, and hungry for new things. No one can be bothered to pave the way for innovation on a Friday. No one is awake on a Monday. Midweek is best, like a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Time of day is also important. Product Hunt will keep products listed under ‘today’ for 24 hours, starting from 00:00 PST, which is 8am UK time. Scheduling your launch for this time is how you ensure it’s on the front page for the longest time, and therefore reaches the widest possible audience.

Getting to the front page is the important thing

It’s 08.01am and the upvotes have begun — if you don’t get upvoted to the top ten in these first couple of hours, you won’t be on the front page, and you will not gather those crucial organic upvotes. It’s time to send out all the drafts you wrote in step 2: email every subscriber (Product Hunt allows you to do that), blast every Slack channel, and just bother anyone else you can think of.

☝️❗️ IMPORTANT: do not link people with a direct link to your product hunt listing, e.g. like this

Just link people to the Product Hunt homepage and let them find your product themselves. They will find it easily, because it should be on the homepage under ‘today’. Direct links to your listing followed by an upvote are much less likely to get you to the top. The algorithm prioritises upvotes that look organic. We learned this the hard way — for most of our launch day we had more upvotes but remained in the number 2 spot throughout.

Customer support and feedback

This is why you cleared your calendar. You will get all kinds of things coming at you including but not limited to:

“I really like this product thank you and well done”: a great comment, everyone loves these. It is a very good idea to respond to all of these with a thank you and a smile. Especially if these are direct comments on the Product Hunt page

“I’m using it and it’s not working, uh oh”: you know you’re own product better than anyone else — jump on helping new users straight away so people know that you are taking this seriously. It’s also possible that they found a bug for you which is great

“This is a cool product but it could do with these features”: respond with a thank you, write down the feature, ask them for their contact details so you can notify them when the new feature is ready (if you feel the new feature is worth implementing).

“I actually think this is a bad product for the following reasons,”: this is one of the best kinds of comment you can get because it’s an opportunity to learn. Do not be defensive. Thank them for their feedback and even engage in some discussion. Most people are trying to be constructive.

“I don’t see the point in this product [no further detail]”: comments which don’t offer anything constructive are actually very rare, but we saw a couple. Best thing is to ignore them. The last thing you want is an argument…

An infographic of what happens of Product Hunt launch day The absolute rollercoaster of launch day — it could happen to you

Phew, you did it 🥳

Chances are you’ve made something exciting and new, and people will actually be interested in engaging with it. The most important thing to remember about a good Product Hunt launch is that no matter how good your product actually is, relying on organic upvotes alone simply will not cut it — that is the reality of the saturated platform. If you roll your sleeves up and follow the above steps, you’ll very likely get into the top 3. Enjoy the growth 🌳

the author

Georgia Iacovou

Content Writer, Metomic